Final thoughts from the U.S. Senior Amateur
Thursday, September 17, 2009
CHICAGO – Cleaning out my notebook from the U.S. Senior Amateur at Beverly Country Club:
• There probably are a few thousand courses out there with tree problems.
You know who you are. You have too many of them and they’ve never been properly thinned.
Every one of these courses ought to pony up whatever it takes to fly its superintendent to Chicago to take a look at Beverly Country Club, which removed some 800 trees five years ago under the direction of golf course architect Ron Prichard, who gets an A+ for his efforts.
Though I never saw Beverly in its former state, I’ll take the members at their word that it was overgrown, especially if, as they claim, you could stand outside the clubhouse and not see the 15th green 75 yards away. In its current condition, the course is nothing short of phenomenal. Trees present plenty of problems to players who hit it off line, but the grass is healthy and there is a light, airy quality to the property.
Never forget that grass cannot grow where there is no sunlight.
• We ran into a couple of entries from Who’s Who in Chicago Golf while out walking the course over the final two days of the Senior Am.
Rick Ten Broeck, one of the city’s top senior amateurs, was at Beverly, as was two-time Senior Amateur champion Bill Shean Jr.
We also saw Frank Jemsek, owner of acclaimed Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, where last week’s BMW Championship was played. Can you imagine the owner of a course that serves as the site of a FedEx playoff event out walking and spectating at another course in the city? No, neither can we.
• I’ve seen golf courses go over the top in maintenance efforts; remember the 1994 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., which hand-mowed every inch of its fairways?
Beverly didn’t go to those lengths, but it did station maintenance personnel at certain greens throughout the week of the Senior Am. The sole purpose of these workers was to go out between groups or matches and clear greens of fallen acorns from nearby oaks so that players wouldn’t need to perform this perfunctory cleaning exercise before putting.
It was a nice touch, and if it kept players from housekeeping duties for 5 minutes a round, it was worth it.
• Double-take of the week: a sign at my hotel registration desk: “All pets must sign in.”